Upon Tsuchigumo’s arrival Rikuo’s Hyakki Yakou is near devastated as he resolves to defeat him on his own, and elsewhere Hagoromo-Gitsune arrives at her destination, reducing some students who make the mistake of trying to hit on her to dust in the blink of an eye. And so she takes Nijo Castle with little blood spilt.
Back at Fushimi Nari Tsuchigumo spots Hidemoto as he reflects on the past, and as he does this Hidemoto notes that Tsuchigumo is more like a disaster than a Youkai, he must be avoided at all costs, later commenting that he merely tricked him into being sealed after he ran rampant on Kyoto. However Rikuo doesn’t exactly see this and as his Hyakki Yakou watches on he confronts him, avoiding a few attacks until he’s reduced to little more than a ragdoll, and even as his Hyakki Yakou race to his rescue they’re swept aside with ease as Tsuchigumo turns his sights on Reira. Smashing her with his pipe.
Following which he starts to indiscriminately crush the Youkai around him until he finally comes across a now broken Yuki-Onna who attempts to avenge her young master. Collapsing soon after being sent flying into Rikuo, relieved that she can still protect him. And having seen all of this with his own eyes Rikuo laments before aimlessly striking back, managing to at least sever Tsuchigumo’s little finger, but his reckless attacks really only cause more damage than they’re worth. At this point back at the Nura household, Rikuo’s grandfather notes that he’s sent one of the clan heads to watch over his grandson, one who insisted on going.
With his Hyakki Yakou all but annihilated and himself badly wounded however, Rikuo still refuses to surrender so Tsuchigumo decides to make a game of this, that they’ll finish this at Sokokuji Temple and of course that he’ll be taking a hostage, Yuki-Onna. In the depths below Nijo Castle at this point, Hagoromo-Gitsune arrives at the place where she intends to give birth to her child, Nuegaike, and commands her subordinates to begin harvesting as many Ikegimo as possible. In the wake of their defeat, Zen struggles to deal with the number of wounded when none other than Gyuuki arrives to relieve Rikuo of command, who as he awakes now vividly remembers the scene of his father’s death and how he stepped in to save him when the girl drawed in close. But when he awakes he finds himself in an unfamiliar place with Gyuuki by his side, who makes it clear that he’s still not ready to lead the clan while giving him a taste of his own fear, something which he intends to help him with.
Another great episode, sure we’re pretty much heading into another quick no time to spare training arc, yet even then I can’t see it lasting that long at all. And as far as the actual episode was concerned we saw things progress on nearly every front, some of which were near heartbreaking.
What happened to Yuki-Onna more than anything, after what we saw in the last episode I was fairly worried about her and just what happened to her didn’t prove those worries wrong. Not only has she been taken as a hostage but when you look at things from her point of view it was all devastating, she broke the moment she saw Rikuo near literally beaten to a pulp and even after that, when she still tried to protect him. Of course things from Rikuo’s point of view weren’t so bright either as well, as the commander it’s his duty to watchover the members of his Hyakki Yakou, and until this point things had been going fairly smoothly. Yet in this episode he was made to feel powerless, unable to do anything as his friends were crushed before his very eyes. If anything I wouldn’t be surprised to find that some of the minor members had died or even if Reira and Dohiko had as well, it would really serve to slam Rikuo’s failures as a commander in his face without giving him any room to look away.
On another note however, I thought it was great to see Gyuuki come back into the picture, sure his arrival this time means another training arc, but he’s still Rikuo’s badass-Jouji Nakata-voiced-uncle. And if anything Rikuo is still in dire need of one, he rushed through the last one he had without really doing much, and it really goes without saying that things have been going far to smoothly for him, only now is he meeting opponents who won’t go easy on him like Gyuuki had, or just plain sucked. So as Gyuuki said he still needs to go further than what he acheived in Touno. Aside from that though, I’m actually looking forward to this training arc, I don’t expect it to last more than two episodes at the most, Zen proves how much of a bro he is, and it should give Rikuo a firm lesson as to what a commander should be. As opposed to the “stand back, and let me handle the near invincible boss on my own” attitude he showed in this episode.
Next to that it was also kind of interesting to see Hagoromo-Gitsune move forward as well, finally making her way to Nijo Castle in a rather elegant way before heading down to the depths to give birth to her child. Which was even referred to as the Nue by Minogoroshi-Jizou, something which at first may have brought back that inconsistency that I thought was removed yet now that I think about it, it was kind of vague in how it was done. Aside from that it was also interesting to get a better idea about some of her other followers, so far we knew that Kidoumaru retains absolute loyalty to her and Kyokotsu’s daughter sees her as an older sister, but Ibaraki Douji and Shoukera had been kept in the background. So even just the contrast of one being rash and irritable while the other was calm and polite was welcome, along with how they both just hate each other.
Finally on a Hagoromo-Gitsune related note, I really hope that they do away with the stupid Yamabuki-Otome plot, it simply paled compared to what the hints that had been thrown around near everywhere were suggesting (see her eyes and hair colour and compare them to Rihan’s). Not to mention that it would also make a bit more sense in its own way. However while these hopes will probably be for naught, either way I’m looking forward to seeing Hagoromo-Gitsune over the next few episodes.